Flexible working and work-life balance have traditionally been used as corporate buzzwords to attract new employees. However, since the onset of the pandemic, many individuals have been forced to work 100% remotely for the first time, which for some has blurred the lines between ‘work’ and ‘life’.
Statistics Canada reports that 80% of teleworkers would like to spend at least half of their work hours at home permanently. Although 90% of those surveyed reported being as productive at home if not more, 35% of respondents admitted to working longer hours from home. Many workers can be distracted by family, the growing to-do list, or simply not having a dedicated workspace. This can ultimately impact their work-life balance.
As the VP of Software at Indellient, I strive to ensure our organization is a place every employee wants to work. I want to ensure they are fully supported in their remote environment, no matter what challenges they may face. I do not want anyone to end up feeling overwhelmed. As a father with an infant and a kindergartner, I understand the need for flexibility and compassion. Today I discuss some of the ways we try to improve work-life balance at Indellient.
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Work from Office, Home, or a Hybrid
In late 2020, as we considered what a “return to office” may look like, we instead decided to approach the change slightly differently. We opted not to return to our previous normal, but to define what our new normal looks like. It focused on our employees having options available to them. At Indellient, we defined:
- Fully Remote: work from home 5 days a week, but with the option to come into a floating workstation in the office if desired.
- Hybrid: pre-defined in-office and work from home days 2/3 or 3/2 split. (Note: Being pre-defined is key for coordination among team members).
- In Office: work in the office 4+ days per week, but with the option to work from home if/when desired.
Within this model, we focus on transparency and freedom. We really want to cater to something that has been overlooked for so long – everyone is different! It’s such a simple concept and yet traditionally, the pendulum mainly swayed from one extreme to the next. Our focus is to ensure all productive work environments are supported.
Flexible Core Hours
Many people are most productive early in the morning, but there are just as many who enjoy afternoons and sleeping in a little. In order to support our employees when they are most productive, we have “core hours” from 10am-3pm. During core hours employees are expected to be available for meetings but can otherwise start or end their 8-hour day whenever they like.
We also understand employees have appointments, kid pickups, and things that can pop up during core hours. With appropriate communication with their manager and teams, employees can make up hours throughout the week or later in the day. Everyone can simply get their work done without extra stress.
It is also common in the IT services industry to work some overtime during deployments or putting out fires. We encourage employees to get that time back by organizing extra time off with their manager at a later date.
You may notice a trend thus far – flexibility. By being flexible with our employees, our employees are flexible in return, and everybody wins!
Vacation Time Employees are Encouraged to Use
Almost every company provides vacation time but is it used effectively? Toxic work cultures can put employees off from using their hard-earned vacation time. From feeling replaceable to wanting to seem dedicated, when employees avoid using vacation, they end up burned out.
The best remedy to get your employees to use time off is to get your Managers to use it! I love taking vacations with my family and friends and it’s a great way to wind down (I enjoyed it a lot more pre-pandemic, but here we are). When employees see company leaders using vacation time, they feel more comfortable using their own vacation time.
Another key to vacation usage is whether it is being used for actual vacation. There are some organizations that will strongly encourage the use of vacation days for non-vacation activities, such as a doctor’s appointment. Vacation is a reward that is appropriately earned. When you “spend” your reward on activities that are not recharging your batteries, burn out is not going to be far off.
Another item to stress is to ensure a culture of disconnection. Make sure employees know they are not expected to answer calls, attend meetings, or answer emails while on vacation. They may want to help and think they are doing a good job by always being online, but it is a disservice to them and their peers by restricting their time to recharge and their peers’ chance to step up and support one another during an absence.
Flexible Stat Holidays
Not everyone celebrates specific stat holidays, and they shouldn’t have to take personal time off to enjoy the holidays they do. Indellient allows employees to swap stat holidays to dates that make more sense to them. Celebrate Eid instead of Christmas? Your family celebrates Thanksgiving a week earlier? Just swap your day off.
This continues to resonate the attitude and goal of flexibility, but it is also well supported by the entire team when it is approached with openness on communication. These types of date swaps are infrequent and usually known well ahead of time, so communicating that to your manager and peers is welcomed and encouraged. It even helps naturally ensure vacation coverage is self-managed. Another win-win scenario.
Create Open Communication
As I close this piece it’s important to note that improving company culture doesn’t end with company rules and benefits. Companies, and managers specifically, need encourage open communication with employees.
Many cases of burnout can be avoided when employees feel comfortable enough disclosing when they are struggling at work or at home. Creating a work environment when employees feel valuable and respected goes a long way to open communication. Embracing compassion when listening to employees is crucial as well. Using that to develop and guide your principles will always lead to a positive environment where employees can flourish.
Indellient is dedicated to creating an innovative and positive workplace as we continue to provide the best IT Services. We are hiring in multiple positions please apply on our Careers Page.